SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – Saturday is the day for graduating seniors at American International College in Springfield.

The college is celebrating its 137th commencement ceremony at the MassMutual Center. Saturday’s ceremony will echo pre-pandemic times.

For the last two years, AIC hosted virtual ceremonies, and rather than celebrating the entire graduating class at once. These virtual ceremonies were divided into groups based on graduating majors.

Other schools choose to postpone commencement during 2020 and rescheduled them until case numbers were down.

Those that hosted them restricted the number of guests students could have and separated students six feet apart during the ceremonies.

But many universities and colleges in the area are also preparing for in-person celebrations for 2022 graduates, including the University of Massachusetts and Westfield State University.

The audience is seated side by side and there is no mask requirement. AIC seniors are prepared to accept well-deserved diplomas after accomplishing a college career during a pandemic.

Donovan Webb, Valedictorian at AIC, said, “Well it was definitely tough… you know March 2020 when we went online is was extremely difficult. It effects your social, emotional wellness.”

Despite the obstacles, Donovan Webb, rose to the highest level he could. Finishing his undergraduate career as valedictorian. With his well earned title, a word of advice, “Work hard, always believe in yourself, and always remember you’re a lot better than you think you are.”

College graduates often describe commencement as bittersweet. They can say goodbye to books and lectures but it’s time to find a job and eventually pay back student loans.

AIC Graduate student, Gianna Leone, said on the topic, “I do have some, but I’ll pay them back when it’s time but maybe they just get forgiven.. that would be awesome but I know that’s not up to me. it’s up to the rest of the world.”

In March 2020, the Trump Administration announced a federal pause on student loan payments. Since then, repayment has been postponed six times. The most recent extension by the Biden administration is set to resume on August 31, 2022.